Three crewmembers on international cargo ship go overboard off Fort George Island

JACKSONVILLE — There was a heavy police and border patrol presence on Fort George Island Wednesday after three crewmembers on a cargo ship went overboard.

We were also told by an official on the ground, the Simba, is the cargo ship the crewmembers came from.

JAXPort confirmed to Action News Jax that the ship is a Sea Lead Shipping vessel. The company just recently began porting in Jacksonville, bringing in cargo from Chinese and South Korean cities.

The ship departed JAXPort at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning and returned to port at Blount Island around 2 p.m.

Neighbors had little information as of Wednesday morning, but Tim Elliot who lives near Fort George Island wasn’t too surprised by the incident. “You know, you have those ships, the guys they see the American dream, you know they exit one way or another. And if they can get off the ship and nobody sees them then you know, ding, ding they’re successful,” said Elliot.

US Border Patrol confirmed one of the crew members was in the hospital and the other two, which had made landfall, were still being searched for by mid-afternoon. A total of five agencies were participating in the search.

We observed border patrol agents scouring yards and the wooded area off of Fort George Road for hours aided by a helicopter and K-9 units.

The large presence was a comfort to neighbor Doni Daly. “The police is out here and the dogs. They’ve got the dogs out here checking too so I’m prayin’ they’ll catch the other ones,” said Daly.

US Border Patrol wouldn’t confirm the crewmembers’ country of origin, nor could it say whether the individuals pose a danger to the public. The agency did say this was an unusual occurrence and that it hoped to learn more after it interviews the hospitalized crew member tomorrow.

Border patrol also told us it was interviewing crew members aboard the ship in hopes of finding out more about what occurred.